Take a look at this number.... $8,757,568,426! That's how much it'll cost to run the City of Los Angeles in the 2016-2017 fiscal years. And, there's a big chunk in there to improve homeless services and create for housing.
On 8th and Beacon in San Pedro there is an encampment of a dozen or so homeless people. How are you I asked one woman? "Not well," she said. Understandable. Another woman named Anne Turner says she's been homeless for two years and on the street for one.
Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to help people like Turner with his new budget. He says the number of homeless sometimes reaches as many as 25,000 a nite in the city adding, “This is simply unacceptable, Garcetti says at a news conference. "That’s why this year we are increasing what we spend on homelessness to 138 million dollars.”
But, how will the mayor pay for it when there’s also money carved out for so many other things like 230 new firefighters, 525 more police officers, 10 million dollars more in overtime for the LAPD, critical sidewalk repair and so on?
The answer is more taxes and fees. Fees on things like real estate development. Says the mayor, “It’s a fee on new construction that would be put into the creation of more affordable housing both to prevent homelessness and solve homelessness.”
Back at 8th and Beacon in San Pedro Daniel Davis says, “I think the idea is a wise choice. If people are so concerned about us being an eyesore rather than a human population with physical needs money is going to be needed to get us off the streets.”
Councilwoman Nury Martinez, whose district includes Van Nuys has her share of homelessness on the streets she's trying to deal with. She's not yet sold on the Mayor's budget.
Martinez says, “My whole worry about this is that there’s folks that have real mental issues that are living on our sidewalks and our streets and we need to provide those types of mental health services before we can get them into adequate housing.”
According to homeless advocates, there has been a jump in the numbers of homeless on the street citywide. The numbers of homeless in San Pedro have exploded. There are 39% more than last year. Almost 400 people on the streets in this community. But, as far as the mayor is concerned…help is on the way.”
The Budget and Finance Committee will begin hearings next Wednesday. Council will vote on the committee recommendations on Thursday, May 19th. San Pedro's Councilman is Joe Buscaino says he's glad the mayor has made a commitment and is trying to do something.